Rick Bayless’ Tuna Tacos en Escabeche

On a recent episode of his show “Mexico – One Plate at a Time,” Rick Bayless made a tuna taco filling that was “en escabeche.”  I decided to try out his method, as tacos are my food of choice, and I’m always looking for new ideas. The filling is so simple – julienne some pickled (en escabeche) jalapenas and some pickled carrots, saute sliced onion in olive oil, add the chilies and carrot and some of the escabeche juice, and dump in a can of oil-packed tuna. Presto – taco ready!

Rick used some chilies from a standard can of jalapenas en escabeche that you can buy at any Mexican grocery, and also used (or pretended to use) the carrots that are aways included in the can, but my expereince is that there are at best only two or three slices of carrot, and Rick called for an equal volume of carrots to chilies, so I realized that I would have to make my own. Here’s my recipe, which yields enough pickled carrots to use in several taco meals:

Carrots en Escabeche

4 medium carrots, peeled

1 cup water

1 cup white vinegar

2 T olive oil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 bay leaf

salt and pepper to taste

Slice the carrots in 1/4″ thick slices (I like to slice them on a diagonal, so that I wind up with long ovals that I can then julienne). Put them in a saucepan with all the other ingredients. There should be enough liquid to just cover the carrots. Bring to a boil, then simmer until the carrots are tender, about 10 to 15 minutes. Let them cool, then store them in the liquid, in a covered container in the refrigerator, until ready to use.

After you have made the carrots, complete the taco filling:

Tuna Tacos

3 pickled jalapenas

An equal volume of pickled carrots (use the ones from the can, augmented with the ones you just made)

1/2 medium white onion

2 T olive oil

one small can oil-packed tuna

Reserved escabeche liquid, or use the stuff in the can.

4 – 6 fresh corn tortillas

Julienne the chilies and the carrots, then thinly slice the half onion. Heat the olive oil in a small, heavy skillet, then add the onion and saute, turning frequently, until the onion is limp and slightly yellowed. Add the sliced chilies and carrots and stir to mix well. Open and drain the can of tuna, then add to the skillet, along with a splash of escabeche lquid – enough to moisten the tuna mixture. Saute it all together until the tuna is heated though. Serve immediately as a filling for fresh, warm corn tortillas. I like to add shredded lettuce, fresh coriander leaves, and some crumbled queso fresca – no salsa is needed!

The tuna mixture – enough for 4 packed or 6 more conservatively stuffed tacos
Ready to fold and eat!

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